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Ashoka Pillar in Sarnath

·  Summer: (30°C-43°C) Moderate to extremely hot
·  Winter: (3°C-25°C) Pleasant weather
·  Monsoon: June to August. Medium rainfall

Best time to visit:  October-March

Opening Time: 09:00 a.m.
Closing Time: 05:00 p.m.
Weekly Holiday: Friday for Lion Capital at Sarnath Museum.

Entry Fees for Indians Adults:  INR 5
Children:  N/A
Cameras:  N/A
Video Camera:  N/A
Entry Fees for Foreign Nationals Adults:  INR 5
Children:  N/A
Cameras:  N/A
Video Camera:  N/A
One of the 19 surviving pillars erected by Emperor Ashoka way back in the 3rd century BC, the one at Sarnath is the most popular one. Ruined in power struggles, the pillar has only the base left at its original site and is known as Ashoka Column. The Lion Capital that was originally mounted at the top is now exhibited at the nearby Sarnath Archaeological Museum. The pillar was erected by Ashoka to mark his visit to Sarnath, at the site where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon.

Formerly believed to be some 50 m. high, today the base stands only about 15 m. high. The key highlights are the four animals illustrated on this sandstone pillar. These include elephant, bull, horse and lion, each of great significance in Buddha’s journey. The Lion Capital, consisting of four Asiatic lions standing back to back on an inverted lotus flower, inspire India’s National Emblem, while the chariot wheel (dharma-chakra) can be seen in the centre of the Indian National Flag.

Road: Choose a taxi or auto-rickshaw from Varanasi to Sarnath. The road is in good condition, though it can be noisy and busy. Plan a trip in the early morning to avoid high temperature that increases with sun’s movement.

Railway: A small railway station with limited train services is located at Sarnath. An alternative would be to enjoy better rail connectivity available at the major railway station of Varanasi (about 8 km. away).

Airway: The domestic airport of Varanasi located about 22 km. from the museum is the nearest access point for the air travellers. The journey further can be completed in a taxi or cab.